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Alek Sigley, 29, had been studying at a university in Pyongyang since 2014 when he lost contact with family and friends on June 25.
“I’m pleased to announce that Mr. Alek Sigley has been today released from detention in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” Scott Morrison told Parliament on Thursday.
Australia and North Korea have diplomatic relations but Australia has no embassy in Pyongyang. Sweden, which has an embassy, intervened on Sigley’s behalf, with officials meeting with senior North Korean officials this week to help get Sigley to China, the Guardian reported.
“This outcome demonstrates the value of discrete behind-the-scenes work of officials in resolving complex and sensitive consular cases in close partnership with other governments,” Morrison said.
The prime minister’s announcement was the first confirmation that Sigley had been detained; Morrison has not revealed the reason why the long-term student may have been held by the North Korean government.
Earlier this year, Sigley told the Guardian Australia his student visa gave him “nearly unprecedented access to Pyongyang.” He was believed to be the only Australian in North Korea, the newspaper reported. Sigley is expected to leave China for Tokyo, where his wife lives.
In 2016, American student Otto Warmbier was sentenced to hard labor while on a tour of Pyongyang. He was returned to the United States in a coma in June 2017 and died a week later.
After the recent G20 summit in Japan, President Trump became the first American president to step into North Korea when he met Kim Jong Un at the DMZ on June 30 in an apparent effort to restart denuclearization talks.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.